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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • Potter football team to work on return to playoffs

  • The Morton football team was frustrated not to be part of the week-10 conversation.
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  • The Morton football team was frustrated not to be part of the week-10 conversation.
    The Potters missed the Illinois High School Association state playoffs for just the fourth time in the last 18 seasons.
    Morton was 3-6 in 2012 and 3-4, good for fifth place, in the Mid-Illini Conference.
    "We didn't have the results we were obviously hoping for," said MHS head coach Jason Thiry.
    The Potters battled the toughest schedule in the league in terms of playoff points. Six foes made the postseason.
    "We have some things we have to go back and look at what happened," said Thiry. "But that doesn't take anything away from the type of kids we had in the locker room."
    He said this group's efforts in the community are something he hopes will carry into the future.
    Prior to kickoff next fall, Morton will seek to become stronger, tougher and rebuild its numbers to help the depth.
    Developing more of an identity of solid defense and running the ball effectively will be focal points.
    "We have to find ways to improve in the offseason," Thiry said, mentioning increased weight room time as one area.
    The Potters started 0-2 in the non-conference portion against two eventual playoff squads. They played Normal University close for a half in a 35-21 loss, then fell short in the final seconds of the home opener vs. Galesburg, 24-21.
    The undefeated Pioneers were No. 6 in the final Associated Press Class 5A state poll. The Silver Streaks improved by four wins from last year.
    Morton began M-I play with a resounding win, 31-13, at fellow playoff regular Dunlap.
    "I thought they responded well when we went out and played Dunlap," said Thiry.
    The Potters had a strong showing in a week-five shellacking of Homecoming opponent Limestone, 40-14. That was the team's season high in scoring.
    Morton also doubled up Canton, 38-19, in week eight. In every victory, the boys posted at least 24 first-half points.
    Pekin, Washington, Metamora and East Peoria, with a combined 27 wins, all qualified for the postseason off the Potters' schedule.
    "All-in-all, our record does not give a sense of all the hard work put in by the players and coaches," said Thiry.
    With its tendency to work together, Thiry said he thinks next year's senior class will be a good one.
    Meshing together with that group will be a freshman squad that went 6-3 and a sophomore team that was 5-3 (the Galesburg game was not played).
    Senior quarterback David Rossi had 29 consecutive starts to end his high school football career, sometimes taking snaps while dinged up.
    He threw for 1,495 yards this year with 13 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
    Page 2 of 2 - Rossi completed 95-of-189 passes. Five players made double-figure receptions.
    Over the last two years, he had 24 TDs and just six interceptions.
    Rossi also was the No. 2 rusher with 308 yards and a team-high four scores.
    Senior Drew Taphorn topped Morton with 309 yards on the ground. He added three TDs. He also made 13 catches for 209 yards.
    Ryan Wiegand, a senior, had 217 rushing yards and team-highs of 26 receptions for 380 yards.
    His 818 all-purpose yards, which included 221 on returns, were the most for the Potters.
    Seniors Brent Waibel and Chase Taphorn grabbed 19 passes apiece. Taphorn led all Potters with six TDs. Waibel amassed 319 receiving yards and Taphorn 273.
    Riley Donald, a junior, had 16 catches for 274 yards, a team-best 17.1 average among those with at least 10 receptions.
    Senior Connor Kindred, a starter since he was a freshman, again excelled on special teams.
    He converted 9-of-11 field goals, including 7-of-8 between 30 and 49 yards.
    Kindred missed only one extra point in 21 attempts, and eight of his punts rested inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He was the top scorer with 47 points.
    Wiegand was the leading tackler with 39, three of which were for loss.
    Senior Jake Castleman was second with 35 tackles and four tackles for loss. He paced Morton with three sacks.
    Senior Taylor Huber produced the most tackles for loss with five, and he compiled two sacks.
    Evan Marchildon, a junior, chipped in 28 tackles, with 2.5 for loss, and a pair of sacks.
    Junior Nick Monferdini also had 2.5 tackles for loss.
    Senior Jack Compton, junior Alek Atkins, Drew Taphorn and Huber all made at least 20 tackles.
    Drew Taphorn led the secondary with two interceptions, which he returned for 32 yards.
    Morton still is trying to finalize a week-two foe in '13 now that Galesburg has a nine-game conference schedule in the newly-formed Mid-West 10.
    Thiry thanked the community for its financial support and attending team events.
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